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Govt suppliers fleece millions

The revelations are part of a report by the Auditor-General on Appropriation Accounts and Fund Accounts in Arrears as at December 31, 2021. The report was produced by Mildred Chiri, who has since retired.

GOVERNMENT lost millions of dollars after paying suppliers, who failed to perform, compromising service delivery, a report from the Auditor-General’s Office submitted to Parliament has shown.

The revelations are part of a report by the Auditor-General on Appropriation Accounts and Fund Accounts in Arrears as at December 31, 2021.

The report was produced by Mildred Chiri, who has since retired.

Chiri said ministries returned 64 laptops worth ZW$8 039 732, following a failure by suppliers to deliver goods that aligned with the ministries’ specifications while other laptops were yet to be delivered 13 months after the due date.

“An amount of ZW$994 070 944 was paid for the procurement of assets by some ministries and a Fund. Full payment was made in advance,” the reports states.

“However, at the time of concluding the audits, the suppliers had not delivered the assets. The delays in the delivery period ranged from eight to 21 months. Service delivery may be compromised if assets procured are not delivered on time.” 

The audit covered financial, compliance and public service delivery, aspects of governance issues, revenue collection and debt management, compensation of employees, procurement of goods and services, management of assets, implementation of programmes and gender policies and supporting structures.

The report raised key issues, including ineffective budget utilisation and control, unreconciled variances between complementary accounting records and ineffective management of public resources.

The report also raised concerns with money advanced to parent ministries, inefficient procurement of goods and services, absence of supporting documents, non-delivery of procured assets, inadequate accounting records, and implementation of programmes and gender policies and supporting structures.

“This calls for more vigilance by all ministries, departments and agencies in monitoring the implementation of contractual obligations by suppliers so that remedial actions in terms of the contract are invoked before it is too late,” reads the report in part.

“Some ministries did not record some of their assets on the public financial management system (PFMS), contrary to Treasury instructions, which require that all assets received from whatever source be recorded promptly and accurately in the appropriate manual registers and recorded immediately on the PFMS.

“Assets may be misappropriated or converted to personal use if they are not recorded promptly or if accounting procedures for assets are not followed,” the report further states.

However, an evaluation of programme implementation revealed some achievements of set targets. This was attributed to the adoption of programme-based budgeting coupled with monitoring and evaluation mechanisms.

The report also noted that the implementation of some of the programmes was reported to have been curtailed by the Covid-19 pandemic, which had a significant negative effect.

It further noted that in some cases, the criteria used by programme managers to measure performance were different from those stated in the strategic and operational plans.

Performance indicators and planned outputs for some programmes were in absolute figures while planning targets were in percentage terms.

Treasury Circular Number 6 of 2019 requires that sub-programme managers should develop a work plan that is in line with indicators and targets.

The use of different criteria evaluates performance difficulty, thereby, affecting decision-making.

Out of 175 constituencies, which received disbursements from the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) amounting to ZW$340 650 474, 70, did not submit to the Parliament of Zimbabwe proof of payments that supported how ZW$140 million allocated to them was utilised.

“I, therefore, could not confirm with certainty whether the expenditure incurred related to the programmes of the 70 constituencies,” Chiri stated in the report.

“Accountability may be compromised in the absence of quarterly reports and proof of how funds were utilised.”

In response, the Parliament said it had put in place a mechanism to ensure acquittals by the respective constituencies.

“Disbursements for the ensuing year are only accepted after credible acquittal has been submitted. Where an acquittal is vague or missing, current applications will not be considered,” Parliament said.

“As such disbursements done during 2022 have been approved after due consideration of acquittals submitted.”

The foreign currency exchange as at December 31 2021 was US$1:ZW$108,6.

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